GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

FALL MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC SENATE

 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009, 3:00 pm

Student Center Theater

 

MINUTES

 

 

1.      President Bud Peterson opened the meeting at 3:00 P.M. and offered the following comments on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:

a)   He called the Senate members’ attention to the announcement on Nov. 6, 2009 of a $25 million gift to the College of Management from an anonymous donor.  It comprised a $5 million account to be spent at the discretion of the Dean.  The remainder would be used to match other gifts the College would receive in the future to enhance their impact.  The funds would be held in an endowment until matching opportunities materialized.  Dr. Peterson said this was an excellent example of commitments made by passionate supporters of Georgia Tech.

b)   The President announced that the Board of Regents (BOR) had just acted to further reduce the FY 2010 budgets for the institutions in the University System of Georgia (USG).  The BOR moved from a 6% reduction to an 8% reduction.  The President reported that this step had been anticipated so for the most part budgets at Georgia Tech were already in line with this level of funding.  Along with this, the BOR increased fees for students, and at Georgia Tech, students would now pay $200/semester instead of the previous $100/semester.  Student leaders at Georgia Tech had been involved in the preparation for this step.  Dr. Peterson said that the increased fees provided $2 million in additional revenue in the current fiscal year, offsetting about half of the additional 2% budget cut just imposed.  The BOR action included a moratorium on further student fee increases, with an important exception advocated by student leaders at Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia; namely, a an additional student fee increase could be supported if it was needed to enable a program that had strong expressed support of the student body.  The President commended Student Government Association President Alina Staskevicius for her leadership on that issue.  See the student leaders’ letter to the BOR in Attachment #1.

c)   Dr. Peterson reported that applications for the incoming freshman class in fall 2010 were up by 19.9% over the previous year.  Out-of-state applications were up by 35.7% and in-state by 4.6%.  Female applications had increased by 21.7% and male, 18.9%.  International applications had almost tripled but represented a relatively small number for the freshman class.

2.      The President asked for approval of the minutes of the meeting of October 20, 2009 [a meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly and the Academic Senate].  He indicated that the minutes were published and posted on the faculty governance web site and that there were no known additions or corrections. (See Attachment #2 below for web site reference).   The minutes were approved without dissent.

3.   Dr. Peterson called on Ms. Reta Pikowsky (Registrar) to present the degree candidates for the commencement to be held December 12, 2009.  Ms. Pikowsky said the list of degree candidates had been thoroughly reviewed and revised as necessary.  She moved that the list be approved.  This was seconded and approved unanimously.  

4.   The President called on Mr. Herb Baines (Director of Information Security) to provide updates on Institute information security policies and procedures.  Mr. Baines presented the material in Attachment #3.  He stated that the threat and usage landscape had changed since the Computer & Network Usage and Security Policy (CNUSP) was last changed.  He noted that federal agencies that sponsor research were increasingly requiring careful technology control plans with strong information security in university operations.  He also noted that export regulations required access control to listed technologies and professors at other universities had been arrested recently for inadequate attention to the rules.  Slide 5 charted how this policy had been reviewed so far and listed the remaining steps to adoption in spring 2010.  He said that the technical leads for each campus unit would be involved in final reviews and preparation for implementation. Mr. Baines explained that CNUSP was part of an annual report to the BOR concerning information security.  He commented that the emphasis in official policies had moved toward a communication of how to do what the community must do but do it securely.  The last slide in the presentation showed that Georgia Tech has accomplished much relative to the burgeoning threat, but Mr. Baines said there was still more that needed to be done to ensure security, particularly in the area of protecting student, faculty, and staff personal data.

Q. Was incidental personal use of Institute computers allowed?  Ans. Within reasonable definitions of “incidental”, yes.  It was impossible to define those bounds precisely and reference must be made to what a reasonable person would consider fair under the circumstances.  An important consideration, Mr. Baines said, was that any such use not interfere with job performance.

5.   Dr. Peterson next called on Dr. Richard Fujimoto, Chair of the Computational Science & Engineering (CSE) Division of the College of Computing, to describe plans to convert his Division to a School within the College of Computing.  Dr. Fujimoto presented the case for this in Attachment #4.  He said one of the primary purposes for the new School of Computational Science & Engineering would be to promote collaborations with other units on campus for developing and applying computational tools in a wide range of science and engineering topics.  He commented that the CSE Division was already fulfilling all of the functions of a School so the planned change was primarily a fitting recognition of that role.  The creation of a CSE School would enable Georgia Tech to take an international leadership role in promoting the importance of computational science & engineering as a field of scholarship.  Slide 4 cataloged important educational programs to which the CSE Division has already contributed in recent years.  Research initiatives undertaken by excellent CSE faculty were highlighted with slides 5-7.  Dr. Fujimoto concluded by saying that the process of transition from a Division to a School was underway and was a natural step.

Comment: Dr. Don Giddens, Dean of Engineering, stated that his college had followed this development with collegial interest and offered its general support.  He noted there had been discussions about the possibility of a joint CSE school of the Colleges of Engineering and Computing.  In the end, he said, it was realized that it was probably better to make joint appointments for some faculty but not try a joint school at this time.  He mentioned that there was some concern about possible confusion between the scopes of the three schools in the College of Computing and that of the computer engineering programs in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering.  If CSE were to offer undergraduate degrees in Computational Science and Engineering, there would be the possibility of some confusion in relation to ABET accreditation.  Thus it was significant that agreement had been reached between the colleges that the proposed CSE in the College of Computing would not offer undergraduate degrees. Dr. Giddens wished the College of Computing well in forming the CSE School because it could make important contributions to interdisciplinary scholarship.  Response: Dr. Fujimoto said that the College of Computing was committed to harmonious development of its CSE School.

Q. Was computational science and engineering the best nomenclature for the new school?  Ans. Dr. Fujimoto said that was the terminology that was well understood in the community.  The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) had helped get this terminology established.  Particular research within this area often was more narrowly focused, such as in computational physics.  So CSE could be understood as the set of all work on Computational X, where X was the set of fields amenable to computational investigation.

Dr. Peterson concluded by observing that new initiatives by one college could have implications for the others, as was the case here.  While no formal action was required from the faculty as a whole to enable the formation of a school, it was important to assure broad awareness and discussion.  In this case, the Provost had requested that the Colleges of Computing and Engineering to work out a mutually agreeable plan, and Dr. Peterson said the Colleges were very far down that path.  He said he also anticipated that Georgia Tech would see more initiatives with an interdisciplinary focus like this which would bring people together through mutual interest and joint appointments.

6.   The President then called on representatives of Standing Committees of the Academic Faculty to present minutes of recent meetings and any action items requiring approval.  In most cases the representatives followed closely the reports in the committees’ files on the faculty governance website noted in Attachment #5 below and so this text need not be repeated here.   The following is an outline of the material presented showing the representatives that appeared to make the presentation. 

a)   Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (Prof. George Riley) Minutes: 10/27/09, 11/3/09, 11/10/09.
Action items: From 10/27: Approval of an amendment in the Guidelines for Undergraduate Minors and the Catalog description of a minor.  From 11/3: INTA – 2 new courses, 2 courses deactivated, modifications to the degrees BS in International Affairs, BS in International Affairs and Modern Language, and BS in Economics and International Affairs involving a changes in the introductory course in international affairs careers and capstone courses.  All minutes and action items were approved without dissent.

b)   Graduate Curriculum Committee (Prof. Julie Babensee) Minutes 11/5/09.
Action items: From 11/5: INTA – 1 new course and 1 deactivation, changes in the MS in International Affairs including 4 tracks of which the student chooses 2, redesign of Empirical Research Methods course; and also changes in the PhD with a major in International Affairs, Science and Technology including 4 tracks of which the student chooses 2, a required oral defense of a Science and Technology paper, demonstration of oral speaking proficiency (in addition to reading) in a foreign language, and changes in various required hours;  Mgt – blanket granting of exceptions to current limits on number of Pass/Fail hours for the current cohort with understanding that permanent changes will be recommended and approved.  All minutes and action items were approved without dissent.

Also included in the reports of Standing Committees of the Academic Faculty was the following in depth report from the Student Regulations Committee.  The material was presented by Ms. Reta Pikowsky, the Registrar, upon the request of Prof. Jeffrey Streator, the Committee’s chair, who was unable to be present.  The material she presented was covered in the committee’s minutes of 11/4/09 and 11/11/09, with action items described below covering three important topics:

New rule on examinations for advanced standing in languages;

Change in policies pertaining to Week Preceding Final Examinations; and

Changes in the Student Code of Conduct to keep current with feasible appeals processes.

Ms. Pikowsky covered these topics with the slides in Attachment #6

She explained that the recommended new policy on slide 4 would provide a better regulated and communicated process for granting students advanced standing in language courses.  New words in the policy were shown in red.  A motion was made, seconded and passed without dissent to approve the new rule on advanced standing in languages.

Ms. Pikowsky then turned to recommended changes in policies concerning class activities in the Week Preceding Final Examinations (WPFE).  One of the Committee’s goals was to consolidate policies about activities during WPFE into a single policy statement in the Institute’s General Catalog on which students and faculty could rely.  Prior to this recommended change, polices were to be found in many different policy documents and caused some confusion.  Ms. Pikowsky reviewed the recommended additions to the Regulations in the General Catalog, as detailed in slides 7-21.  References were made on the slides to corresponding language that existed in the Faculty Handbook or the Student Bill of Academic Rights.  Completely new language was highlighted in yellow.  She emphasized that many of the additions were designed to ensure that students could make informed decisions about the courses they took, the courses they dropped, and the plans they made for time management. 

Ms. Pikowsky then called on Mr. Jimmy Williams, member of the Student Government Association and its Vice-President for Campus Affairs.  Mr. Williams explained the process that was followed in developing the recommendations.  He explained that students led in challenging the faculty to consider a WPFE with as few conflicts with preparation for final exams as possible.  A great many meetings were held with administrators, school chairs, and leading faculty across the Institute in fall 2009.  Progress was made in realizing the need for distinctions between the rules for courses with traditional final exams and for courses with alternative forms of final assessment.  He asked for questions:

Q. For courses with traditional final exams, were makeup exams (or other assessments) prohibited during the week preceding and the week of final exams?  Ans. Makeup exams are to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis between the professor and the student.  They could occur during the last two weeks.

Q. Was there a requirement on how much weight should be given to a final exam? Ans. No.

Comment.  Prof. Joe Hughes (Assoc. Chair from ECE) said that the proposed regulation changes addressed all the objections that had been raised in spring 2009 and commended the team for what they brought forward.  He said the new material in Section XII. D. 1. (slide 17) was particularly helpful in providing guidance about situations in which alternative final assessments were appropriate.

Comment.  It was pointed out that some universities had recently had difficulties with litigation in which statements in a catalog were treated as a contract.  Thus the speaker had a concern with the provision in Section XII. C. 7 (slide 15) that said “All quizzes and tests must be graded and reported to students on or before the last day of class of WPFE.” [Underlining added in the minutes to indicate the word the speaker questioned.]  The concern was that there were many circumstances in which it would turn out to be physically impossible to return a grade on an exam by the last day of class.  After much discussion, a friendly amendment was accepted to change “must” to “should” as shown on slide 15.

Q. Did the words in Section XII. C. 2. (slide 11) provide adequate protection to students since they allowed major project reports during WPFE? Ans. Yes, because students often wanted more time to complete those projects.  Additionally, the schedule for the project reports must be known to the students via the course syllabus so there would be no surprises.

Q. How did the regulations affect take-home final exams which were common particularly in graduate level classes?  Ans. If such an exam took longer than three hours to complete then it would be an alternative assessment and could be scheduled accordingly.

Q. What again was the problem that these new regulations were trying to solve, and did they solve it? Ans. The problem was that students had difficulty scheduling their time to give adequate attention to preparation for final exams. This difficulty arose from a lack of information about expectations and from too many activities coming due in WPFE.  The regulations proposed would alleviate these concerns.

Q. Was there not a need for at least a day or two that were completely free of assignments, i.e. 1-2 dead days? Ans. Many of today’s problems arose from ignorance of expectations.  It was believed that the recommended regulations would much better communicate the need for a less stressful WPFE.  It was also reported that further changes were under consideration to create a couple of reading days free of assignments.

Q. Concerning Section XII. C. 8, did the instructions about where a student should take a grievance only apply to the week prior to final exams?  Ans. No, this was simply a guideline written for the context of activities in WPFE.

Q. Was it possible to have longer to get final grades in? It was very difficult to get Friday finals graded by the Monday deadline.  Ans. There was no known solution to this because there was a very narrow window in which to get all grades concluded.

It was moved, seconded and passed unanimously to accept the recommended changes in WPFE regulations expressed in slides 7-21, as amended through the friendly amendment recorded as a word change in slide 15.

Finally, Ms. Pikowsky brought up changes in the Student Code of Conduct necessary to improve the appeals processes.  She assured the faculty that the changes were only to administrative processes necessary to facilitate appeals and there were no changes to the system of sanctions expressed in the Code.  Slide 23 set out features of the Code before the recommended change, the nature of the recommended change, and the reasons behind the recommendation. 

President Peterson clarified the point about appeals that might ultimately result in an appeal to the BOR.  He explained that any appeal heard by the President of one of the USG institutions was eligible to also be appealed to the BOR.  Therefore, he had recommended that the President of Georgia Tech would only hear appeals of expulsions and suspensions, and in that way, the number of appeals to the BOR would also be limited.  It was not that the BOR was unwilling to hear anything else, as the slide suggested, but that the number of appeals from Georgia Tech had risen significantly when all matters came to the President for review.  It seemed prudent instead to limit presidential reviews to only the most extreme cases.

Mr. Chris Schmidt, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Integrity, summed up the advantages of the recommended changes as 1) fewer appeals to the BOR, 2) simpler for students to understand since all first appeals go to the Dean of Students, and 3) more efficient handling of cases.

It was moved, seconded, and passed without dissent to approve the recommended changes in the Student Code of Conduct.

7.   The President moved on to new business.  He reminded the faculty of the announcement at the last faculty meeting that Dr. Gary Schuster intended to return to teaching and research and a search committee would be announced to find his successor as Provost.  The President presented in Attachment #7 the search committee that had been appointed.  He said he had received help from leaders around the campus in making these selections and that the search committee provided a broad representation from around the campus.  A search firm would also be engaged and the goal was to have a new Provost in place by July 1, 2010. 

In concert with this search, the President also announced the intention to make two other changes:

·         A new position of Executive Vice President for Research would be created to provide oversight for all of the research conducted in Georgia Tech – in the colleges, in GTRI, and in the Enterprise Innovation Institute.  The search for someone to fill this post would be started very soon and would be an internal search, with a goal of having someone in place by about March 1.  In that way, candidates for Provost would be able to understand the new structure and the people with whom they would work.  Dr. Peterson explained that the world of research at Georgia Tech was now somewhat divided between the responsibilities of the Vice President and Director of GTRI (who reports to the President) and those of the Senior Vice Provost for Research and Innovation (who reports to the Provost).  Once the change was fully implemented, Georgia Tech would have an Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, an Executive Vice President for Research, and an Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

·         Secondly, the position of Vice Provost for Academic Diversity would be changed to one of Vice President for Institute Diversity.  The existing Vice Provost position reported to the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.  The new position would report to the President and have broader responsibility for all types of diversity important in the Institute.  The timing of the search for this position was not worked out but would probably follow the search for the Executive Vice President for Research.

Dr. Peterson commented that his office was concerned to implement these changes without significantly increasing administrative costs.  Since April, the budget for the President’s office had been reduced by $350 thousand and some of this might be needed to implement the new positions.  He told the faculty they should receive a full announcement of these changes via email shortly.

Q. Would the GTRI Director and the Senior Vice Provost for Research and Innovation both report to the new Executive Vice President for Research?  Ans. Dr. Peterson said in broad terms, yes, but he did not want to specify the reporting structure under this new position.  The leader chosen would be expected to guide the development of that structure.  Dr. Peterson said that one of the goals was to increase collaboration between GTRI and researchers in the colleges.  He said a lot of progress in that had already been accomplished and cited the new FutureMedia initiative as an example of good collaboration.  He also spoke of the importance of communicating the full range of research at Georgia Tech in more unified way.

Hearing no further business, Dr. Peterson adjourned the meeting at about 5:00 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Ronald A. Bohlander
Secretary of the Faculty

February 14, 2010

 

Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:

 

  1. Letter from student leaders to the Chancellor and Board of Regents concerning student fees.
  2. Minutes of the Meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly and the Academic Senate October 20, 2009.
  3. Updates on Institute information security policies and procedures
  4. Plans to convert the Computational Science & Engineering (CSE) Division into a School of the College of Computing
  5. Minutes of the Standing Committees of the Academic Faculty.
  6. Presentation of recommended changes coming from the Student Regulations Committee.
  7. Search Committee to fill the Office of Provost